Heat forward James Johnson on starting: ‘These are trying times. We’re in the trenches, whatever it takes to get a win’

Making his first start as a member of the Heat, James Johnson helped lead Miami to a big at Charlotte Wednesday. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

TORONTO – James Johnson is ready to make his second start for the Miami Heat tonight.

Luke Babbitt’s strained hip flexor still is ailing and coach Erik Spoelstra said following today’s shoot-around that he doubts Babbitt will be available. Johnson will replace Babbitt in another virtual must-win game, this time against the Raptors. The versatile 6-foot-8 forward equaled his season high with 26 points in his starting debut Wednesday in Charlotte. He had one of the most efficient games of the season making 10-of-12 shots (6-of-7 on threes).

Johnson came off the bench for 71 games before making his first start.

“At this time of year it’s whatever it takes and JJ understands that as much as anybody,” Spoelstra said. “The other thing about that is it’s not like he hasn’t played with those guys and often that’s been our closing lineup.

“We’ve been through so many machinations of our lineups this year. Everybody has seemed to play with everybody. They’ve been comfortable playing with different lineups the bottom line is we need productivity throughout the course of the game. It’s not just who starts. We have to sustain it. We were able to do that and take some punches the other night. We’ll have to do that again tonight.”

Spoelstra has rolled out 22 different starting lineups this season.

[Mailbag: What would this season’s Heat team look like with a healthy Chris Bosh?]

[Why didn’t LeBron James tell Dwyane Wade he was leaving to Cavaliers? ‘They couldn’t ask Dwyane to carry that secret’]

Johnson said he is ready to whatever Spoelstra asks of him.

“It’s just whatever it takes,” he said. “I’m all in. Whatever coach wants me to be or wherever he wants me to play I’ll do it. These are trying times. We’re in the trenches and whatever it takes to get a win.”

Something the Heat (38-40) needs after the Pacers and Bulls both won Thursday while Miami was idle. The Heat now are ninth, one-half game behind both teams for the final playoff spot.

Johnson, who has started 141-of-470 games during his eight year career, most of those (114) coming in Toronto, said his preparation isn’t any different with the exception of one area.

“My scout,” he said. “I’m used to playing against a bench guy or getting one or two minutes with the starter and then the bench guys comes off.

“It was pretty much the same except for getting my tendencies of who I was going to guard first.”

Tonight’s game against Toronto starts a difficult four-game, season-ending stretch for Miami in which it plays at Toronto and Washington before coming home to face Cleveland and Washington.

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

 

 

Reader Comments 0

0 comments